Jun 25, 2011

How I Get Excited About New Ideas

My friend Anthony recently wrote about a six step process he uses to determine whether a new idea he finds out about, or a new company someone is starting, or a new product being released, is interesting to him.

He emailed and asked me how new ideas catch my attention. For me, it's not a methodical list, but there are certain aspects of ideas, or companies, that always seem to grab me:

1. Can I relate to the problem being solved: does it solve some rather large problem that I, or someone close to me, has experienced and that I (or we) have explicitly acknowledged how the solution would make our lives (and the lives of many others) easier or better. In other words, does it matter to me? Similarly, if it doesn't matter to me specifically, does it look like it may matter to alot of other people. Did the inventor of this new idea create it to solve a problem of their own.

2. Can I relate to the pleasure being induced: does it make me happy, smile, laugh or cry? Do I feel an urgent need to call my wife asap and tell her about it? Is this something I'll mention at the dinner table that night ("guess what I saw today"). Did the inventor of this new idea create it to produce a pleasure they wanted to experience themselves.

3. Does it do something in a new and unusual way? Does it make me think (or say, upon initial glance) "Oh shit that is really cool." Does it let me experience something in a completely novel way.

4. Does it look pretty? If it is a web service do I remark to myself how amazing the things that can be done in the browser these days are? Am I sure that there is no way that I - who can barely draw stick figures - could ever conceive of something that looked and worked like that.

5. If I am thinking about something as a business, does it seem like it could be a company and business that captures and exchanges value in a new way; is there some business model whereby it can generate revenues and profits in novel and unusual ways - in ways that are consistent with the grain or fabric of the use cases it engenders, and not simply as bolt-ons.

6. Is it something that I could not imagine being done five years ago? Does it feel like something that can remain unusual or unique five years hence.

7. Did I encounter this idea, service, business, in a completely random, unexpected and serendipitous way.

8. If its about music I will sine qua non be interested ;-)

How do new ideas catch your attention?

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